Making of Red Valley

Tunnel View in the Yosemite Valley is the very definition of iconic.
I was driving back to the hotel, away from the valley, after a day in the park with a rather dull sky, which is something that any landscape photographer is more than used to.

When the sky lit up behind me.


Sunsets like these last minutes, but, by the will of the gods of Light and blind Luck, I happened to drive by the parking spot right at the entrance of the tunnel.

I joined a number of excited photographers, all jumping and wowing, and fought for my personal spot to plant the tripod: I only had a few minutes to compose and take the shot.

That's when being intimate with your photographic gear and its numerous buttons pays dividends.

When I went back home to work on the image, despite the initial enthusiasm, the image came out somehow disappointing: it wasn't the slam-dunk I imagined. Yes, the sky was magnificent, but the difference in brightness and tones between the foreground and the sky was very hard to tame, despite several hours spent post-processing the image.

I just couldn't find the right balance. 

 

I didn't publish the image that week: it didn't reach the quality bar for printing and publishing.

I went back to it several times in the following weeks, carefully balancing the foreground when the idea struck me: by dodging the few orange and yellow trees in the foreground, I could create a connection between the valley and the wonderful sky above.

It made the image.

Printing it was another test of patience. I knew the kind of paper: a matte paper to reproduce the "strokes of paint" in the sky with that wonderful painterly quality. But matte papers, unlike glossy photographic papers, struggle when it comes to images like this one with high dynamic range (the difference between the darkest and brightest areas).

Not Canon Fine Art Smooth.

That's the paper I reach out when I want matte and dynamic range, all at the same time. Fine Art Smooth, with an exceptionally smooth surface, also throws in the mix very precise rendition of fine details; precisely what I needed to clinically reproduce the trees in the Valley.

You can easily spot the single trees in the foreground, be lost exploring the valley, enjoy the iconic waterfall and El Capitan, to finally bask in the magnificent cloudscape above Yosemite.

I eventually published Red Valley and submitted it to the International Photographic Competition where it was awarded a Merit and was exhibited in Nashville at Imaging 2018.

Explore Red Valley in details by clicking on the image below.

 

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